Now that we are all in lockdown and nothing seems straightforward any more, I have been thinking about why I volunteer. I am not a natural volunteer-er, being quite self sufficient and never a goody two shoes. But every now and again, something speaks to me. My first experience of volunteering was for our local community Neighbourcars. I got involved because I like driving and I was between jobs so had a bit of time on my hands. It was fun taking people to hospital or hair appointments, and sometimes to church. I met lovely people and heard some great stories.

Fast forward a number of years to 2018 and I am working for Waitrose. This is a great company to work for, and one of their amazing initiatives is the Golden Jubilee Trust which enables partners to volunteer at a charity for up to six months while still being paid. I had heard of Dorset Rape Crisis Support Centre (now STARS) before, being a fan of Broadchurch, so I applied to the Trust and was lucky enough to be awarded a secondment. I started in February 2019 as an Admin Assistant working one day a week at their Poole office.

I can honestly say the next six months of my life were among the best I can remember. I felt welcome from the first day and my work was appreciated even though I was a bit of a liability to begin with, not being au fait with the technology or procedures. The people who work and volunteer for this charity are universally lovely.

Last May the charity became STARS Dorset with a launch event in Bournemouth that I was happy to attend. It was great meeting people from related disciplines and seeing my colleagues in a less formal setting.

I believe the work I did in my 26 weeks was of value to STARS. I have continued my involvement, although for half a day a week rather than a full day because I was back with Waitrose doing my stint on the checkouts and in the office, until Covid-19 struck.

Managing Lockdown

And now, everything has changed. We are all getting used to a new normal, so here are a few thoughts on how I have been managing so far.

Firstly, I was sent home from my day job at Waitrose in March, to sit out a 14 day quarantine, as I had been in Spain to see my sister. I was considered to be too much of a risk as Spain had quite a serious early outbreak of Covid-19. Then I was advised to go for the full 12 week self isolation due to my age and health conditions.

This means that I have not had to set my alarm clock for many, many weeks. I am waking later and later, and that's ok. My weekly Pilates class is now conducted via Facebook and the class members have set up a WhatsApp group to keep in touch. I am lucky to live right on the edge of a heath and have a neighbour who is happy for me to walk her dog most days. I am a great believer in the stress relieving properties of animals and Poppy, a Jack Russell, is the most joyful companion.

I have also discovered some of the plays, musicals, ballets and museum tours that are being shown on television. As a keen theatre goer, I thought I might get bored in the lockdown, but so far I am having trouble fitting everything in. How did I ever find the time to go to work?

I know some people are having a hard time coping with the massive changes that have been forced upon us in a very short time. Luckily, I am not one of them. So far. However, it will be good to get back some structure and I am missing my work companions, friends and especially, family. I can't wait to have a massive hug from my son.